Lakers remain a favorite

Times Staff Writer

Two consecutive playoff defeats to Utah have not altered the Lakers' position as one of the teams to beat for this year's NBA championship, according to Las Vegas oddsmakers.

The Lakers, tied with the Jazz at 2-2 in their best-of-seven series heading into tonight's Game 5 at Staples Center, were listed at 6-5 -- along with the Boston Celtics -- to win the league title based on odds released before Tuesday night's games.

The Detroit Pistons were next at 4-1, followed by the New Orleans Hornets at 9-2 and San Antonio Spurs at 5-1. The Cleveland Cavaliers, who will play Game 5 at Boston tonight, were listed at 10-1, with Utah at 20-1.

Home-court advantage is a key reason why the Lakers are still considered a strong bet, especially in this year's playoffs.

Out of the first 20 home games involving the NBA's top four teams (Celtics, Lakers, Hornets and Pistons), 17 times the favorite has covered the point spread, according to

And when the point spread has been five or more points, favorites have covered 22 of 35 heavy spread playoff games before Tuesday's action.

The point spread for tonight's games?

Both the Lakers and Celtics are 8 1/2 -point favorites.

According to, early bets are nearly split on both games. As of Tuesday afternoon, the Lakers had received 52.31% of the picks against the point spread, while Boston was the choice for 51.92%.


After losing 14 of their first 19 road games, the Atlanta Braves will turn to veteran left-hander Tom Glavine to provide some stability on the mound tonight against Philadelphia at Citizens Bank Park.

This season, Glavine has been anything but stellar in six starts. He's 0-1 with a 4.03 earned-run average. That's not good news for the Braves, who are listed as +135 underdogs against the Phillies' Brett Myers (2-3 in eight starts).

Horse racing

Here are several horse racing proposition bets available at Will there be a Triple Crown winner in 2008? Yes (+105) or No (-145); Will Kentucky Derby winner Big Brown win this year's Preakness Stakes? Yes (-330) or No (+230); Will Big Brown win this year's Belmont Stakes? Yes (-200) or No (+150).

Will Big Brown win the Preakness Stakes by a greater or lesser margin than the 4 3/4 lengths he won the Kentucky Derby by? Over 4 3/4 lengths (even) or under 4 3/4 lengths (-140); Where will Big Brown be at the quarter pole of the Preakness Stakes? First or second position (1-1), third, fourth or fifth position (1-1) or sixth or farther (8-1)?


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